After more than 12 hours of jury deliberation,
former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, was found not guilty of
federal fraud charges Friday afternoon in U.S. Circuit Court in Athens.
Donnan, 69, faced 41 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in an alleged scam of millions of dollars from investors.
“I feel vindicated, and I hope I can get my life back,” Donnan told reporters as he left the courtroom, the AJC reported.
The jury foreman, Artis Ricks, said the prosecution didn’t prove its case and Donnan “was as big a victim in this as some of the investors.”
The jury took three days to reach the verdict.
Donnan, Georgia’s head coach from 1996-2000, and Ohio businessman Gregory Crabtree were accused of conspiring to scam investors, many of who are Athens residents or prominent sports figures, out of $80 million. Crabtree pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Donnan pleaded not guilty, saying he did not mean to intentionally mislead investors.
Prosecutors alleged Donnan and Crabtree operated a scheme through a closeout-merchandise company called GLC Limited and used money from new investors to pay off bills and some investors. They called it a Ponzi scheme.
The indictment said investors were not given much information on the company, nor updated on financial problems GLC was having.
GLC filed for bankruptcy in 2011, as did Donnan.